DCCC programs, initiatives support LGBTQ students

By Jen Warner

LGBTQ+ Flag. | Photo by Ludovic Berton

DCCC held a virtual seminar titled “A History of LGBTQ + Visibility in Pop Culture” Feb. 25 as part of its Safe Space / Ally Training series. Presented by DCCC communications professor Maria Boyd,  the seminar explained the history of the LGBTQ+ presence in mass produced media.

Throughout the year, the college seeks to educate its employees on the current issues the LGBTQ+ community encounters through its various training sessions. After attending three eligible Safe Space/Ally training sessions, employees officially earn the title of LGBTQ+ Ally.

Allies are listed on the college’s website and given certificates and a sticker to display in their offices. This identifies them and their areas as being safe spaces for LGBTQ+ students or staff members to be their true, out selves, according to DCCC counselor Jason Stansberry, who coordinates the training program in addition to advising the LGBTQ+ Club.  

“When I say a safe space, it doesn’t just mean a physical space,” Stansberry said. “The person themselves is considered a safe space, and someone that people can feel comfortable turning to with their experiences and feelings.”

Campus Pride Index is a higher education database of LGBTQ+ friendly campuses that allows prospective students to learn more about their schools of interest. | Photo courtesy of campusprideindex.org

He describes the ally piece of the training as a journey and not a destination.

“We want to make sure that DCCC employees continue to learn as we grow these safe spaces for students both inside and outside of the classroom,” Stansberry said. “Being an ally means you’re pledging to continue your education as LGBTQ+ issues, language, and other things change throughout the years.”

DCCC professor Liz Gray has consistently honored this pledge since becoming a Safe Space Ally back in 2011. After virtually attending “A History of LGBTQ + Visibility in Pop Culture,” she reflected on what inspires her most about the training program.

“I strongly believe that any program that gives me insights into the lived experience of my students and friends — some of whom happen to be the people I’m lucky enough to call colleagues, but also are fellow faculty, staff and administrators — is something I should prioritize.”

– Professor liz gray

For Gray, the commitment to continue ally education allows for a deeper understanding of what it means to be human, as the LGBTQ+ experience is one that intersects with all different races, classes, ages, religions, and so on.

With Gray’s sentiments in mind, Stansberry aims to schedule a variety of offerings at DCCC from lecture style educational trainings, to meetings about shared experiences, to more intimate dialogue sessions.

On Mar. 22, 2021, the college is holding an interactive workshop titled “Straight, but not Narrow: What Makes a Good LGBTQ+ Ally,” presented by DCCC counselor Ryan Jeral.

DCCC counselor Jason Stansberry was instrumental in getting the college represented on the Campus Pride Index, an LGBTQ National tool that, according to its website, seeks to “to create safer, more inclusive campus communities.” } Photo courtesy of Jason Stansberry

Participants can expect to learn the definition of a good ally, the meaning of performative allyship, and how to best create safer and more inclusive environments for all. A duplicate workshop is scheduled for Mar. 25, 2021.

In a more intimate session, musician and DJ Zeke Thomas will speak on April 13, 2021 about his experiences both as a gay black man and a sexual assault survivor.

This event is open to the college as well as the community and is made possible by the It’s On Us PA grant, a statewide grant program created to spread awareness and to combat sexual assault.

In addition to his efforts with the LGBTQ+ club and the Safe Space/Ally trainings, Stansberry recently worked to have DCCC represented on a database called the Campus Pride Index.

According to their website, the Campus Pride Index has been “the premier LGBTQ National benchmarking tool for colleges and universities to create safer, more inclusive campus communities.”

This provides prospective students the opportunity to search participating campuses in their database in an effort to learn more about the LGBTQ+ academic experience and the quality of campus life that awaits them. 

This LGBTQ Ally Sticker is given to those who have completed the college’s Safe Space/Ally training program to identify their support for the LGBTQ+ community and their pledge to continued education. | Photo courtesy of Jason Stansberry.

Presently, DCCC is the only community college in the state of Pennsylvania to be represented on the Campus Pride Index.

While Stansberry celebrates this accomplishment, he also utilizes the site to learn of opportunities for growth for the school, recognizing that they still have room to improve in terms of campus support for the LGBTQ+ community. 

“I’m always open to suggestions and I always encourage staff and students to let me know what they’re looking for,” Stansberry said.

For more information about the LGBTQ+ student club, the Safe Space/Ally training program, and other LGBTQ+ events and initiatives at DCCC, visit dccc.edu or contact Jason Stansberry at jstansberry@dccc.edu. 

Contact Jen Warner at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu.

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